Evacuation plan takes shape for possibility of West Seattle bridge collapse

May 6, 2020, 7:32 AM | Updated: 8:26 am
west seattle bridge...
The West Seattle Bridge. (Feliks Banel, KIRO Radio)
(Feliks Banel, KIRO Radio)

Seattle now has an emergency evacuation plan should engineers decide the West Seattle Bridge is about to collapse.

Seattle planning for chance of lower West Seattle bridge evacuation

The cracking has slowed since cars were removed from the bridge in March, but is still active.

New monitoring equipment should be installed by mid-May, which will give engineers a much better handle on the severity of the situation and changes in real-time. Transportation director Sam Zimbabwe has said there is no indication that the bridge is near a failure.

“Now that we have removed vehicles, we don’t believe the bridge is in any imminent risk of failure, but we need to plan for every contingency,” he said.

Should that change, the city has created an emergency alert system and a comprehensive response plan.

Engineers have created what they call a “fall zone,” where they believe the bridge or pieces of it might fall. It’s a box that extends 225 feet away from the bridge in all directions.

There are no homes inside the “fall zone,” but it does include the Lower Spokane Street Bridge, parts of West Marginal Way, Harbor Island, and the Duwamish River.

Residents face ‘scary’ prospect of losing West Seattle Bridge for good

There are three scenarios the city is prepping for: The first is an immediate evacuation, should that be necessary. Police, fire, the Coast Guard, SDOT, SPU and City Light would all be activated to quickly clear and monitor the “fall zone.”

The second is a 1 to 5 day warning to evacuate the “fall zone.” And the third would be a controlled demolition. Under this scenario, the “fall zone” would be evacuated and then the section of the bridge over the Duwamish would be demolished for safety.

You can sign up for the Seattle emergency alert system in the event these scenarios occur here.

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Evacuation plan takes shape for possibility of West Seattle bridge collapse